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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 3 Apr 2020 06:52 PM and ends Sat 4 Apr 2020 07:50 PM

Dvar Torah Parshat Ki Tetze

י' אלול ה' אלפים תש"ע

A Nation at War
We’re in the last days of a fierce election campaign. Millions of dollars have been wasted on advertising, pollsters have been scurrying around collating opinions and the political pundits have been chattering away without pause. The parties have presented their policies and have come out strongly against the opponent’s positions. It‘s been fun but you’ve got to ask yourself, if amidst all the bluster and spin, has anything practical actually been accomplished?

I sometimes wonder why we bother with elections in the first place; surely there must be a better method to decide the best way forward for the country. If anything, there is less clarity about each side’s intentions now then there was way back when the bell was rung for round one. The adversarial nature of our current political system promotes endless haggling over inanities and an irritating series of gotcha moments of no real import.

Most of the major disagreements depend less on what is being said and more on who is saying it. You say A, we’ll say B. Had our side said A first we’d have died at the barricades defending it. Now that you came out with it, we have no choice but to attack it as complete nonsense and the potential ruination of our nation. It’s a phony war, where most of the so-called policy differences are only tools in the struggle for power.

It’s a pity because in their purest form elections should really matter. This could be the moment of truth where the long-term future of our country is decided. The decisions made by the incoming parliament will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren. This is a tide in the affairs of mankind and the right to form the next government is something worth fighting for.

I’d like to see a real war, with major policy differentials between the opposing forces. I’d like to know that their opinions were driven less by focus groupthink then by deeply held ideological attitudes. I want to know that their core promises are integral to identity and not just a convenient camouflage to help get into power. I want a real war.

Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic. After all, they’re only politicians. They’re just straw men and women put up there to represent sectarian interests and backroom dealers. They’re just going through the motions and willing to say whatever it takes to fool enough of the people enough of the time. If I want authenticity and truth I should be looking at the real policy document; the Torah.

We too have our conflicts and confrontations but we’re playing for keeps. We too are expected to fight against our adversaries, but ours is a struggle for the ages, not just a stage in the electoral cycle. This week we read; When you go to war against your enemies (Ki Tetzei 21:10) and, although on the face of it, the Torah is just describing the process of warfare against the surrounding nations, the sages interpret these verses to be depicting the cosmic battle against the forces of negativity that constantly surround us.

We have the unique ability to transform evil into goodness and convert negativity into a pasture for G-dliness. It’s worth fighting to win this battle because the decisions we make now can change history.

It is tempting sometimes to avoid conflict and shirk our responsibilities, to just stay home and stay safe, but there is no place in Judaism for conscientious objection. We have a moral and religious responsibility to go to war and transform the battle field of the world into a haven for spirituality.

When you cast your ballot, vote for the party of G-d. When you make your decisions about the future make sure you factor in His will. There is absolutely nothing wrong with voicing a strongly held opinion, just as long as you know what you’re fighting for. Take it up to the opposition and make a stand for justice. Fight to be right and keep on fighting until together we vanquish the enemy.

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